I’ve learned some things about forgiveness in relationship to reconciliation. I am not struggling with lack of forgiveness – it is something different. So as to continue to maintain the privacy of all concerned I can best relate my thoughts via an analogy – an imperfect one but its the best I can do and remain discreet. I will say though, that my situation has nothing to do with my husband having an affair but it conveys my point.
Let’s say Ann and Bob are a married couple and Ann has had an affair with another man. There are a few different possible outcomes but in this instance I’ll point out a few to illustrate my point. Upon finding out about the adultery, Bob and Ann have options – to separate and go their own ways or to remain married and work things out. Rebuilding the marriage can only happen if Ann is repentant, if she acknowledges her sin. Then together they can work forward in the marriage – both understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They could acknowledge that Ann has a particular problem and they could devise strategies to deal with temptation and honesty and open-ness would have opportunity to strengthen the marriage. No, it wouldn’t be easy but with repentance and forgiveness it can happen.
But what if both Ann and Bob wanted to continue to be married and work on it but Ann refused to accept responsibility for her actions? What if she blamed Bob or other people? What if she honestly believed that she should not be held responsible or accountable for her actions? How could Bob possibly continue on in the marriage, expecting it to heal, grow and mature? It wouldn’t matter how many times Bob forgave Ann… without her acknowledgement of her own actions, without repentance, how can they both move forward together on the same page?
And therein lies my struggle. My person can not/will not even listen to some of the things they have done. They refuse to hear how they impacted my life. I want my person to acknowledge their actions and to acknowledge that I had been hurt. But they will not listen. I have apologised to them, asked for their forgiveness. I have tried to acknowledge my own wrong doing and also their hurt even though I had their best interest at heart and never meant to hurt them. I forgive my person. I love my person. However, it is extremely difficult to have a relationship with my person – what do we build upon? We have two very different beliefs about the world, its Creator and therefore how we should live as well as how we see the current status of our relationship and everything surrounding it.
Counsellors and godly people in my life would normally advise me to step away. To forgive and yet accept this non reconciliation, to protect myself. But that isn’t so easy. My situation is such that I cannot separate myself. I can forgive. I have forgiven my person and I love them. But full restoration can only come about through acknowledgement, confession, forgiveness and commitment of both parties.
And this is the struggle that leaves me feeling battle-weary and worn down. So if you see me down the street, looking haggard or overwhelmed, chances are… I am overwhelmed. Trying to navigate through life where decisions must be made, actions must be performed within a state of forgiveness yet without reconciliation. Yes, God is good. All the time. But I am still overwhelmed and taking each moment as it comes.